Airlines and cruise companies need to work closer together if they are to defeat problems common to them both. That was the opinion of Terry Thornton, Senior Vice President of Itinerary Planning for Carnival Cruise Lines at this year’s Routes Americas Strategy Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In an address to delegates at the air service development forum he said governments around the world regularly regard both sectors as soft targets for taxation and fees and urged the two sectors to come together to fight problems common to both.
“Both the airline industry and the cruise industry have been deemed easy targets. As much as we can we need to work together, being fair about the services we’re consuming and paying a proper price for that. But there just seems to be so many examples today where we’re easy targets,” he said.
Instead, Thornton argued in regions like Latin America airlines and cruise companies can work together for the benefit of both. He said resources could be shared on a number of measures in the region, including emarketing campaigns, frequent travel programmes and “earn and burn” loyalty programmes.
Thornton said the cruise industry not only faces a struggle with national governments when trying to set up new home ports, but also those with more localised interests. He cited the example of Cancun in Mexico where Carnival has been trying to set up a home port where cruise itineraries can start and finish.
“We got push back from the local Mexico hotels in Cancun,” Thornton added. “They said you’re going to steal all of our business and all of our airlift.”
However, he argued local hotels would have benefited from extra business as cruisers book hotel nights locally before or after their trips while the cruise companies tend to arrange their own airlift.
Thornton also admitted the cruise industry has not paid enough attention to Latin America previously, adding: “We’re distracted by other things, we’re distracted by Asia. I think it is a growth opportunity.”
However, he added despite Cuba’s weak infrastructure the cruise operator is hoping to start offering itineraries including the country from April having located the 850-passenger Fathom in the Dominican Republic from where it can start making visits once permission has been granted.